Opening New Worlds of Growing Experiences
Introducing greenhouse gardening into the classroom enriches the curriculum
At a time when our education system is under fire--from parents, politicians, special-interest groups, and national education reformers--some truths about learning endure. Children do enjoy thinking, raising questions, manipulating, sorting, testing, and investigating for themselves. What can be more engaging than nurturing and exploring living things? National Gardening Association is committed to helping teachers expand their own skills as they help students use plants and gardens as contexts for developing a deeper, richer understanding of the world around them.
This online guide to school greenhouses is not a complete how-to, but rather, a basic overview of key issues relevant to educators planning to run--or currently running--a school greenhouse program. It covers operational and horticultural topics, with an emphasis on how to actively involve students in maintenance and investigations.
You may already use a school greenhouse and want to make it an even more useful learning tool, have one that has fallen into disuse that you'd like to restore, or be contemplating building or purchasing a greenhouse. Greenhouse growing presents a unique set of challenges, and this online guide highlights steps for meeting those challenges.
Why School Greenhouses?
Considering greenhouse gardening
Integrating greenhouse growing into the school year and curriculum takes time and planning.With all of the demands you already face as an educator, why take on a greenhouse project?
When students step into a greenhouse, it is clear that the classroom walls have disappeared, and the opportunities for investigating and learning have begun. With so many senses stimulated, students can't help but become curious observers and active inquirers. A greenhouse is an ecological island separated from its surroundings, experiencing its own seasonal and annual cycles, and featuring fascinating and complex interrelationships. Your students can examine and adjust the climate while exploring plants and other organisms.
Even in a small greenhouse, students learn about plants as whole systems. They can experiment with water movement, pollination, and nutrition, and explore relationships between plants and insects. They can try to simulate different habitats, and understand how physical factors and climate relate to plant type and growth.
Integrating a greenhouse as a learning environment offers boundless opportunities for promoting student responsibility, and helps develop students' confidence and pride as they display and share the fruits (and vegetables and flowers) of their labors.